For those of you who cannot see the possibility of visiting the Grand Canyon (Arizona) in the near future do not be saddened as the solution to your problem is right here in India. The solution is Gandikota, a small village located in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. Let me warn you from the very beginning that this is not an easy place to reach as this place has very limited connectivity from rest of the India except for places like Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad from where you can simply drive off over a weekend. The best part, however, is that a trip to this place will let you cover two other interesting places which include Belum Caves – Gandikota Fort – Gooty Fort.
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I have traveled across the oceans, trekked in the mountains even drove around the deserts but what I have not seen is a real cave. This unfulfilled dream of mine came true when I had the opportunity to visit Belum Caves. Located in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in India. This trip forms a part of the tourist circle which comprises of Belum Caves – Gandikota Gorge – Gandikota Fort – Gooty Fort.
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Somehow the word temple often gets associated with Mahabalipuram after all this place has some of the finest shore temples but in reality, this place has another history attached to it. All along the coastline of ancient India various trading posts were present often operated by the English, Portuguese, French and Dutch. India was the hub for exports and these European powers found the perfect place to trade in muslin, gemstones, pearl, coir and other export goods. If you look at the present map of India you would find various forts and trading posts all along the coastline and one such is that of Sadras Fort.
Sadras was obviously not the real name, it was what the Dutch called it as they found it much easier to pronounce than Sadrangapatnam or Sadrafpatan. Nestled between the major ports of Nagapattinam and Madras (Chennai) this was more of a small fort which also acted as a trading post or trading office. Sadras along with Pulicat were the two most famous trading post built by the Dutch in the Coromandel Coast by VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) or better known as the Dutch East India Company. People are aware of Pulicat but Sadras is almost forgotten.
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If you are travelling to Thanjavur or Tanjore then there are few places you must visit and one of them is Manora. It’s around 65 – 75 kilometres from Thanjavur town and the best transportation option would be to hire a car. Instead of hiring the car for a full day you can book it for a point to point service which would be much cheaper.
The journey from Thanjavur town to Manora is a very smooth one as a considerable part of the journey is over newly constructed four lane highway, rest of the roads are also newly laid making it quite a smooth and comfortable journey.
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This is my second blog on the city of Thanjavur or Tanjore. The first one was obviously on Brihadeeswarar Temple being one of the most recognised temples in the country which I felt required a separate blog in itself. Surprise as it may sound the city or town of Thanjavur was for a long time ruled by the Marathas and only left after the British or East India Company started dominating the trade scene in the Indian subcontinent.
To make their presence felt the Marathas had built a modern palace which was the residence of the Bhonsle family from 1674 – 1855. However, this palace was initially built by the Nayaks but after their defeats against the Marathas by Venkoji Bhonsle (half-brother of Shivaji), the palace was taken over. This palace is however not like the ones you see in Maharashtra on Rajasthan but more of a complex of different structures which in totality forms the whole Thanjavur Maratha Palace Complex.
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Many of my friends have recently asked me about my now famous trip to Masai Mara in Kenya, Africa. Since they prefer to go on vacation abroad away from the typical destinations within India (which they often find very crowded) they keep asking me about how they can also plan a trip to Kenya.
I have already written blogs about Masai Mara but have never shared how the trip was planned and what are all the sights and places you can see. Traveling to Kenya for tourism is not that very expensive and if planned properly and it can be easily be managed within the same budget you would spend on an exotic location in India. Careful pre-planning would save you a lot when it comes to airlines and hotels. The best way to head to the African continent would be either from Mumbai or New Delhi. There are more flight options from Mumbai and thus it is always the first choice. You can reach Mumbai either through a connecting flight or by train.
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